I’m Paranoid



As an 18-year veteran of the school board, the last few months have been the most challenging I’ve ever witnessed.  I experienced both student walkouts for school safety and teacher walkouts for dismal state support for its public schools.  I grew up in an era of protest–the Kent State shootings and Viet Nam War sit-ins.  I watched on TV the riots in Watts.  I’m not Pollyanna; I knew the world wasn’t perfect. I was cognizant of war, crime, and cruelty against others.

I watched in horror the TV coverage of the Twin Towers and the shooting of Gabby Giffords in a Tucson parking lot.  I wept over the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Afterward, our school district remodeled all of our forty-four schools.  Now, when I drive by each of them, the buildings are fortresses.  (If Phoenix water wasn’t so pricey, moats would have been added). Our front office entries are bullet-proof glass, and like the movie theater, I speak into a microphone and slide my ID through the little drawer for the secretary to peruse before I’m admitted.  I’ve undergone background checks and carry a fingerprint card.

Yet, in spite of all these school safety measures, school shootings continue.  Believe me, I’ve bent my head in prayer since Sandy Hook–my only weapon.  Thoughts and prayers are of NO use to dead children and school staff members; they’ve already met Jesus.

I am paranoid of what’s to become of us.  We live in an America rife with bullying, hate, anger, and powerful lobbies which control our legislators.  Each week we lose more of our most precious asset–our youth to senseless violence. Our children are counting on us to resolve this madness.

The High Price of Grass


lawn3No, I’m not talking about weed, Mary Jane, Kush, I’m talking about the stuff in my yard–or lack of stuff in my yard.  Long ago,  I chose not to grow winter grass, just summer grass.

In March, I began the task of overseeding, patching, mulching, and fertilizing.  The water sprinklers ran three times of day.  Unlike other parts of the country, the Southwest rarely gets free water from Heaven.  Yet, the dogs enjoy romping through wet grass and leaving paw prints on my floors.


Over a month has passed and my lawn looks terrible.  It’s filled with splotching dead areas which refused to grow–even over the septic tank!  I’ve spent copious amounts of money trying to have an attractive, lush lawn to no avail.  Then yesterday, I received a water bill from the city.  OMG!  My water bill had quadrupled!  It was almost half a grand!  (Water is damn expensive in the desert.)


I’m in a quandary; I don’t know what to do.  For sure, I’m reducing the watering schedule, but should I take out all the grass and put in rock or astro turf?  Resod? Spray paint the bare patches green?  Or maybe, I simply shouldn’t worry about the dismal look of my backyard.  No one can see it but me.  The dogs certainly don’t mind.

Once upon a time, someone said to me, “That’s just like you, Sue.  You always want to take the easy way out.”  I beg to differ.  I’m usually up for a challenge, but with temperatures over 100, an inviting pool, an inflatable lounge, and a cold beer, I’m no longer going to fret over my dismal attempt to grow grass.  Maybe next year.



Hey There, You’re a Rock Star


FreeVector-Rock-StarsYears ago, I co-taught Sunday school with another church member, and one Sunday she said, “Sue, I’m tired of my nomadic life on the road.”  I knew she traveled several times a month leaving both her husband and children to fend for themselves.  But she was making mega bucks.  “You know I have a teaching degree I’ve never used.”

No, I didn’t know it.  “If you think you want to teach, I can arrange a interview with our HR assistant superintendent.  You realize you’ll never make the same amount of money you make now.”

“Of course.  There’s more important things than making loads of money.  I need to be with my family, and I want to make a difference in the lives of kids.”


“Deb, teaching is the most important profession in the world, for without a teacher there can be no nurse, no attorney, and no plumber.  I’ve observed you; you will be fabulous.”

Deb was hired as a teacher in a Title I elementary school and earlier this week emailed me:  I’m so proud to work for such a supportive governing board and superintendent.  You’re rock stars.

Rock stars?  The true rock stars are you and your fellow teachers.  You who are paid $35-40,000 per year to educate our future.  You who collect warm clothing for children in need.  You who tutor children at risk.  You who work tirelessly day after day to ensure each child maximizes his/her potential.

Curiously, I’ve never swooned over The Beatles, Smash Mouth, nor Justin Timberlake.  Yet, I’ve been euphoric when I witnessed the myriad of student accomplishments made possible by caring and dedicated teachers.  So unless Bruce Springsteen wants to run away with me, teachers will be my #1 rock stars!


It Pays to Advertise

sexist ads1411


Most of us are bombarded with advertising.  All with promises of the best car, the best detergent, the most energy efficient car or appliance.  Oh, dear God, yes, I’ve been sucked into these claims of years.

I’ve bought miracle cleansers guaranteed to make my shower sparkle.  I bought wrinkle-free clothing, five-minute meals, and solar pool covers.  None of those products delivered their false promises.  Yet, I kept on buying–searching for the one.


As time and age reduced me into a shar pei, which I could not bear to look at in a bathroom mirror, let alone a full-length mirror, I searched for hope.  And with simple clicks on my computer, I bought beauty creams, make up, oils, and elixirs all guaranteed to forestall my aging process.  Sadly, not one of them worked.

Finally, I just gave up.  I chose to no longer be a victim of a publisher’s clearinghouse subscription, nor a free week at a Maui timeshare.  I solved my problem.  Then, I spied this:

Really?  You want to move me?  Do realize how much stuff I have?  A Ford Focus?  Not to mention, how many muscular men could sit in a car of that size! I almost rolled over the sidewalk laughing in hysteria.

Given the current state of our world, this is what pays to advertise.



Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too

In the midst of everything gone awry both nationally and internationally, my blog today takes a new turn.  Do any of you recognize this former Youngstown, Ohio resident?


His name is James Jonah Cummings, AKA Jim Cummings.  He was born in Youngstown in 1952,  attended St. Columbia Elementary and graduated from Ursuline High School in 1970.  Curiously, both my brother and I are trivia addicts–we collect random stuff in our minds.  Jim Cummings is the most recent.  He’s:


True, he ‘s been the voice of Winnie since 1988 and the voice of Tigger since 1989.  Currently, in production, he will be Christopher Robin’s voice too!  Jim has a fascinating repertoire of voices.  He was the Darkwing Duck and the Tasmanian Devil.  His voice has also been used in  The Lion King, Aladdin, Shrek, All Dogs Go to Heaven, and a myriad of other films.


There you have it.  Another great story from Youngstown, Ohio.  And a worthless piece of trivia to consider and to share with others.  But how cool is it to tell your kids and/or grand kids Winnie and Tigger are from Ytown?  Though AA Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh, was from England, a teller of taller tales could further suggest Mill Creek Park is, indeed, the hundred-acre wood! 



February 14


On Wednesday morning I awoke before the alarm and laid in bed surfing my memories.  I was in Miss Snell’s second grade class.  Since I was not very good with scissors, my decorated mailbox (shoebox) looked shabby.  I don’t recall if it was a class rule, by every kid got a valentine from each member of our class.

Now this required labor.  We had to punch out cards, write our name on the back, stuff them in miniature envelopes and address them.  Of course, there were only five choices of valentines, meaning at least 4 or 5 students would receive an identical card from me.  I agonized about the one for Meice (Maurice)–the love of my life.  I finally chose a bear holding a heart–it’s message: Be my valentine. I underlined BE.

When it came time to open our shoeboxes, the boys were busily eating homeroom mom cupcakes, and we girls were searching for the onecard from our love.  I read and reread the nondescript message on the card from Meice.  I cherished it.


At 11:00 AM, I went to my hair dresser appointment and shared my memory with her.  Her response: “my husband doesn’t like Valentine’s Day.”

Wow!  Who doesn’t? “What’s up with that, Addie?”

“Chip went to a small, rural elementary school in Iowa.  He was short, with a slight build.  When he opened his shoebox, he had one or two cards.  Others would have many.”


Hard to believe.  Today Chip is a beefcake, highly successful entrepreneur.  However, even at fifty years old, he is a broken little boy, due to unconscious cruelty of other children.  Next year I’ll send Chip a box of chocolates!

Then my Valentine’s Day got worse:  Parkland, Florida.  Seventeen children and faculty assassinated by a sick 19-year-old with an AK-15.  My pleasant memories of February 14th have been shattered forever.

When is enough, enough?




Believe me, I can talk like a sailor, but I was raised with decorum.  I knew people didn’t smoke cigarettes in church, spit in hallways, nor kick puppies.  I also knew there was a time and place when it was not appropriate to use expletives.

In my 18 years on the school board of a large, suburban school district, I never swore from the dais.  I may have thought it, but I didn’t verbalize it.  I knew better.  Further, I didn’t want teachers cussing at students.  Thus, I set an example.  However once, in front of my mom, I accidentally dropped the f bomb.  She heard it fly from my mouth.


“Sue, when people use gutter talk, it’s the sign of a severely limited vocabulary.  Not to mention a lack of decorum and civility.  Your hero, Mark Twain, was a genius at penning classics without swearing.  We readers fully understood what Huck Finn was really saying, but Mrs. Samuel Clemens edited the base vernacular from his manuscript.”


Hmm.  Mark Twain was a genius–a stable one.

2018: Welcome to the 70’s


I never said, “I’ll be glad to watch this year go; hopefully, next year will be better.”  Every year of my life has brought its challenges and laughter.  Granted, each year has been different–sometimes 360 degrees different, but still each year has been interesting, confounding, and humorous.

As I child, I didn’t like January 1, even though we celebrated my paternal grandfather’s birthday I was bored by the endless, TV football games and dreaded I would go back to school tomorrow.  For me, it was a very long stretch to spring break and summer vacation.  Further, it would be months before the sun shone, the daffodils appeared, and I could rid myself of boots and a winter coat.  I’d be sentenced to a classroom writing a report about George or Abraham, cutting and pasting hearts on doilies, wearing green, ad nauseam.

Admittedly, 2017 changed my life.  While it has been a year of joy and accomplishment, it has been a year of introspection.  Now when a major home improvement needs done, when a big-ticket appliance breaks, when I get the itch for a new car, I make each decision based on a 20-25, year warranty.  Yes, 2018 will bring my 70th birthday.  A most anchoring realization.  I don’t want to replace an air conditioner when I’m eighty, nor dicker with car sales folk.


Yet, 2018 will also bring my youngest’s 30th birthday and her magical, fifth year as cancer-free, so I’ll suck it up.  I’ll turn 70.  I’ll publish my first novel in collaboration with my brother.  I’ll get another tattoo, buy a puppy, and take a riverboat cruise on the Mississippi, if I can find someone who wants to tag along.  But most importantly,  I’ll throw a big party in celebration of my youngest, fifth cancerversery.


Let the ball drop, NYC.  Dr. Suze is ready for 2018!  Happy New Year!


Twenty-six Candles: December 14th


Reprise:  I wrote this blog two years ago, and nothing has changed.  Massacres continue.  Congress okays folks’ right to carry concealed weapons.  As I complete my 17-year-tenure on the school board, every night I pray a Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, or a Las Vegas slaughter, doesn’t occur in my district.

I’m weary of the Second Amendment argument.  Really?  Obviously, many have no understanding of US History.  A single musket, fire and re-load, as compared to a semi-assault rifle with a bump stock?  No comparison.  Reread a part of my blog and weep for all of the innocents lost since 2012.

“Like many of you, I’m sure you’ve almost or already completed your holiday shopping.  Thanks to the convenience of online shopping in jammies, the wish list of children and grandchildren has been answered.  The presents are wrapped in whimsical paper and sparkling bows for tomorrow’s mail.  December 14th.

Tomorrow evil strikes! Twenty children and six, valiant school employees will never see a new bicycle, and iPad, nor the must-have, limited-quantity, hottest gift of 2012.  The gift you stood in line to buy at 6:00AM on Black Friday or assembled for three hours.”


Imagine the anguish of families who planned funerals amidst the holiday gifts they’d never see their children open.  Every time I think about the horror of Sandy Hook Elementary School I gag.

As I said in my original blog, President Reagan changed his stance on gun control after his attempted assassination and the serious wounding of Jim Brady, i.e. the Brady Bill.   We must advance conversation and legislation about access to assault weapons, bump stocks, and rigorous background checks, prior to gun purchase. We must address mental health care in our country.

Yes, I know.  Nothing is going to change.  The fire of hate is fanned by those in DC and the nut case who says Sandy Hook didn’t happen.  I get it; I’ve but one vote.  Yet on December 14th, I will light 26 candles.  Will you?




Happy Thanksgiving from a First Grader


My blog publishes early this week, as I’m off to the South for Thanksgiving.  A teacher friend of mine asks her first graders each year to write a recipe for preparing turkey.  This one made me roar with laughter:

Go buy a pink turkey the size of your face, about 10 pounds, from Home Depot. Put it in a pot with chunks of black pepper.  Cook in the oven for twenty minutes at ten degrees.  Serve with a few strawberries and lots of goldfish crackers.  

Chef Micah titled his recipe Turkey Trot.  Unfortunately, I’ll be out of town.  Sorry to miss his culinary masterpiece.


Happy Thanksgiving!